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Bandipota encounter: 2 militants, JCO killed

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, Jul 3 (UNI) The encounter between militants and security forces at Bandipora in north Kashmir has so far left two militants and a army Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) dead and three soldiers wounded, a defence ministry spokesman said.

There has been no firing from militants after a final assault was launched by the troops with the first light this morning, he said adding the operation was suspended last night because of darkness.

''With the first light, troops launched an all out offensive against the militants, who were holed up in the house since yesterday afternoon when a search party of 14 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was attacked by them at Gamaru in Bandipora area at 1715 hrs,'' he said, adding troops were conducting a search of the area and so far bodies of two militants have been recovered by the troops.

He said there were intelligence reports that three to four militants were present in the area when it was sealed by the troops.

The spokesman said the operation is almost over as there was no firing from militant side. ''However, we want to make sure that there is no explosive left by the militants in the damaged houses,'' he said.

The area will be declared safe once the search operation is over, he added.

The encounter ensued after troops conducted search opertion following tip off that some militants were hiding there.

The spokesman confirmed that Subedar Jagdish Chand was killed and three other soldiers were wounded in the encounter.

The local residents alleged that troops fired mortars damaging about half a dozen houses in the encounter.

The encounter in the area came after Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police announced a reward of Rs five lakh on Salahudin alias Bilal alias Haider, a Pakistani militant of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit.

Salahuddin is the LeT chief operational commander in Jammu and Kashmir and at present believed to be hiding at Sumblar in Bandipora area. An exceptionally tall man standing at 6.5 ft, he looks after the whole LeT network in Jammu and Kashmir and has masterminded most of the suicide attacks in the Valley.

However, this was the second major encounter in as many days in Bandipora area. Lt Colonel V R Chauhan OF THE 15 rr, two militants and a civilian were killed in more than five-hour-long fierce gunfight at Nowpora market in Bandipora area on June 30. A BSF jawan was also wounded in the encounter.

UNI BAS VD HT1455

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